Neanderthals less 'creative' than humans
November 8th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

Neanderthals less 'creative' than humans

We recently learned Ozzy Osbourne apparently has some genetic traces of Neanderthal in him, and now scientists are finding out even more about this extinct human relative.

The modern human brain and the Neanderthal brain began at about the same size at birth, but their skulls show that they began developing very differently within the first year of life, scientists say.

Neanderthals evolved more than 400,000 years ago, lived as hunter-gatherers in Europe and Asia, and went extinct about 30,000 years ago.

Judging by the archaeological record, Neanderthals were well-adapted to their particular environment, but they were not as creative in terms of hunting strategies or artwork – for example, they apparently did not make cave paintings the way their human contemporaries did.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology scanned Neanderthals skulls and compared them with modern human skulls. Their results are published in the journal Current Biology.

Subtle changes in the early phases of brain development can have a huge impact on social cognition, communication, and how creative members of a species are, said study author Philipp Gunz of the  Planck Institute.

The pattern of brain development described in the study may point to a diminished inclination to communicate through art, and possibly also help explain why modern humans had advantages over Neanderthals, he said.

"If you are an artist you have to understand symbols, you have to understand meaning, you have to look at the world in the certain way, and it seems that Neanderthals, for 200,000 years, didn’t feel like it," Gunz said.

Modern humans had a higher reproduction rate, and were more flexible in terms of their hunting strategies, he said.

But before we feel too good about ourselves, remember that Neanderthals actually roamed the Earth longer than our own species, Homo sapiens.

"It's not like we can look down on them. We haven't made it that far yet," Gunz said. "Their extinction, I would say, is not a direct consequence of this particular brain development pattern." But the cognitive differences may explain biologically why modern humans showed this creativity and flexibility in their behavior, he said.

Neanderthals had difficult living conditions, inhabiting Europe during the most recent Ice Age. In fact, for most of their time as a species, Neanderthals were on the border of extinction, Gunz said. They ate meat and hunted, and were probably social people who could communicate.

Back when humans and Neanderthals both lived in Europe, population density was low; there were only about 100,000 people on the continent, Gunz said. The first interactions between Neanderthals and humans could have occurred when both species were in the Middle East about 90,000 years ago or less, he said.

It's not certain if there was conflict or harmony between the two species, but there was most likely some interaction and interbreeding. A paper in May in the journal Science estimated that 1 to 4 percent of the modern human genome of non-Africans can be traced back to the Neanderthal

As scientists continue to study the Neanderthal genome, they will learn even more about this creature that seems to have something in common with many of us, not just Ozzy.

Photo: a representation of Neanderthals at the Museum for Prehistory in Eyzies-de-Tayac, France.

soundoff (1,065 Responses)
  1. CrulkAsd

    viagra or cialis reviews https://cialisjla.com/ – viagra and cialis is cialis time released?

    May 29, 2021 at 06:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Zisseloh

    tadalafil 20 mg https://rcialisgl.com/ – viagra and cialis combination does cialis increase blood pressure

    May 29, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dent Repair Shop Near Me

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having difficulties with your RSS. I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 29, 2021 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Social Media Marketing Businesses

    Excellent article. I am going through many of these issues as well..


    May 29, 2021 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Zisseloh

    cialis store in qatar https://rcialisgl.com/ – cialis20mg online should cialis be taken with food

    May 29, 2021 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Volvo Truck Repair Shop


    May 29, 2021 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Digital Marketing Near Me

    I'm pretty pleased to discover this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new information on your blog.


    May 30, 2021 at 00:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sprinter Van Maintenance


    May 30, 2021 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Google Marketing Company


    May 30, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Video Marketing Consultant


    May 30, 2021 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. MileSwa

    which is better viagra cialis or levitra https://ckacialis.com/ – 36 hour cialis cialis 20 mg dosage

    May 30, 2021 at 07:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Social Media Marketing Businesses Near Me


    May 30, 2021 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. CrulkAsd

    cialis for sale in toronto https://cialisjla.com/ – most recommended online pharmacies cialis is super active cialis a scam

    May 30, 2021 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Body Repair Near Me


    May 30, 2021 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. EncoxDev

    express scripts online pharmacy perform rx specialty pharmacy canadian online pharmacies that do not require a prescription

    May 30, 2021 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair Service Near Me

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Cheers! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 31, 2021 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sprinter Van Maintenance Shop


    May 31, 2021 at 07:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Dodge Van Repair

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest sites on the internet. I am going to recommend this web site!


    May 31, 2021 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Rv Wrap Shop

    This is the right webpage for anybody who hopes to find out about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject that's been discussed for many years. Great stuff, just great!


    May 31, 2021 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ZisseVed

    mail order cialis cialis singapore buy side effects for cialis

    May 31, 2021 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. EncoxGtv

    Cialis Oral Jelly (Orange) the pharmacy recommended canadian online pharmacy

    May 31, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. ZisseVed

    viagra cialis canada herbal cialis gnc viagra or cialis or levitra trial

    May 31, 2021 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. EncoxHtf

    cialis generic cambodia cialis lasts cialis generic

    May 31, 2021 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 2008 Dodge Sprinter Exhaust Repair

    Your style is really unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this web site.


    May 31, 2021 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. EncoxGtv

    disposal of prescription drugs mobile rx pharmacy walmart pharmacy rx plans

    May 31, 2021 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Sprinter Repair Orange County


    May 31, 2021 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Service Van Repair Shop

    It’s nearly impossible to find educated people on this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    June 1, 2021 at 02:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Travel Van Repair


    June 1, 2021 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. EncoxAni

    most reputable canadian online pharmacies rx pharmacy discount card history of prescription drugs

    June 1, 2021 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Window Repair Near Me

    There's definately a great deal to find out about this topic. I love all the points you have made.


    June 1, 2021 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Ac Repair Near Me

    This site certainly has all the information I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    June 1, 2021 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. rv furniture replacement


    June 1, 2021 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. orange county ca rv parks

    Hi, There's no doubt that your website may be having web browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, fantastic website!


    June 1, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Windshield Replacement Shop Near Me

    Having read this I believed it was rather informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 1, 2021 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. EncoxDev

    importing prescription drugs for personal use canadian pharmacy in tampa fl Altace

    June 1, 2021 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Jazmine Hankerson

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing!


    June 1, 2021 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Touring Van Repair


    June 1, 2021 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Bernita Sladick

    I like it when individuals get together and share views. Great website, stick with it!


    June 1, 2021 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. rvtv youtube


    June 1, 2021 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. commercial truck body shop near me

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 1, 2021 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. EncoxAni

    try our ed pack pharmacie canadienne canadian pharmacy viagra

    June 1, 2021 at 21:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Augustus Gest


    June 1, 2021 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Rv Maintenance Shop

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 2, 2021 at 03:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. nearest rv repair shop

    Excellent post. I'm experiencing a few of these issues as well..


    June 2, 2021 at 03:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. vinyl wraps for rv


    June 2, 2021 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Repair Shop Near Me


    June 2, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. MileSwa

    buy cialis online splitting cialis cialis canada pharmacy no prescription required

    June 2, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Frame Repair


    June 2, 2021 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Zisseloh

    cialis rash cialis testimonials generic cialis in canada

    June 2, 2021 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Colene Davari

    bookmarked!!, I like your website!


    June 2, 2021 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Leave a Reply to MileSwa


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.